Wild Camas at Night in a Field of Hay

Last night I went into our field and sat in the tall grass. Actually, we’re pretty sure it’s hay. Whatever it is, it comes up about 4′ and is amazing looking. And among it grows camas.

Camas was used as an everything plant by the Kalapuya, or Calapooia or many other spellings depending on which group of white people spells their Nation name.

I am not going to pretend that I am a Kalapuya Nation expert. I know very very little. My son graduated from Kalapuya High School last June, and many of the ecology projects he did in school were based on planting Camas. He is much more of an “expert” than me, and he too, barely knows anything.

If you want more of an expert vibe, try this link from the Washington County Museum.

OR maybe you want to cook Camas bulb so you might like this article by the University of Oregon.

Why is this lady talking about a cultivar from ancient tribes when she’s merely a Kindergarten teacher in Halsey, Oregon?

Well, that right there answers the question on one hand. I’m surrounded by farmers and ranchers.

Being a land owner is a huge responsibility. It takes guts and courage and patience. It takes sacrifice and love and time. It takes commitment and willingness to try new things. It takes faith and strength. It takes the courage to bet on next year. It takes gumption. The Kalapuya Nation had much more of this than me in spades. Some of them literally FISHED ON CLIFFS overlooking the Columbia River. I drive a Subaru “outback” to Halsey from Junction City. My life is not nearly as challenging.

I appreciate this land. I love this land. I listen to the birdsong every morning, watch the trees sway and flutter, and I send a prayer out to those that farmed it before me. I send a huge grateful prayer of thanks for the work and love poured over this land.

After the Kalapuya came the white farmers. And they planted the trees. The trees that border my property on 1/3 of it, and in the middle of it. The trees that give this property character and make it even more special. It has a magic quality to it, with gorgeous weeping willows and a wisteria that grows gracefully through the willow and up into the tall cottonwood. Bellow all this is the barn, garden shed, orchard and many little secret passageways into small hidden gardens.

I can’t believe this place of the Earth is a place that I can call my own. I am humbled by owning land for the first time in my life. I remember the movie with Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, the Irish immigrants to America, just wanting to own their own land, knowing it was their legacy and opus to leave future generations-the building of a farm, of crops of land. The movie was called “Far and Away.” It’s a Hollywood film, so you know, it has its flaws, but the idea of working your own land is the central theme of it.

And if you just want the best movie about the power of land and a young man wanting to own his own life, the best farm movie OF ALL TIME, you must watch THE MAN FROM SNOWY RIVER. If Tom ever wants to know what I think a man that loves a woman looks like, it is basically Jim and Jessica, forever. “I’ll be back for the mares…and anything else that is mine.” OMG I can barely even breathe thinking of it… (I made him come in and watch the clip with me just now, as I squealed in delight while Jim cracked his whip.)


When my dad and I had our last conversation, we talked about land. He knew how much I wanted my own farm, my own house. He told me it would happen, that he knew it would.

He was happy for all of my successes, but I have to say, he’d have so much pride for me right now, farming my own land. I know my mama does. They were my farmer inspirations, and they paved this path 50 years ago, for me.

I found the person that wants to make the same things happen that I do. And we own Soggy Bottom Ranch. It is a beautiful dream come true.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.


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